Let’s get to work

In the final weeks of 2017, Congress left town with a great deal of work unfinished, and it’s now incumbent on us to address these critical priorities — from protecting our Dreamers, to funding health care for millions of children, to providing disaster recovery funding to communities struggling to rebuild after unprecedented floods, hurricanes and wildfires.

Unfortunately, 2017 was marked by many missed opportunities as Republicans in Congress wasted precious time and political capital with a purely partisan approach to governing. Their reckless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act yielded higher premiums, fewer insurance options and fear for millions of Americans who depend on the law for health care. After repeated failures, Republicans got their ‘win’ late last year by passing a $1.5 trillion bill that wounds, but does not repeal, the ACA, raises taxes on millions of middle class families and cuts taxes for millionaires, billionaires and the largest international corporations. All the while, urgent issues facing our nation, demanding Congress’s attention and action, were ignored.

This week, Congress gaveled in the second session of the 115th Congress, and, frankly, I’m ready to get back to work and make good on the promises we made. Thousands of communities across the country are anxiously waiting for Congress to approve billions of dollars in disaster relief funding to help them begin rebuilding their lives. If Delaware were ravaged by floods or record hurricanes, we wouldn’t let Congress take a vacation while our families waited for relief – and it shouldn’t be any different for our neighbors in Texas, Puerto Rico and California.

Millions of families are desperately waiting on long-term funding solutions for critical health programs, including community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health care to nine million children across the country – including 8,300 in Delaware. Without a long-term solution, the health care of millions of children will be in danger of expiring every few months. There’s no reason our nation’s children and their families should live in fear that their health care may vanish.

At the same time, nearly 800,000 young men and women are waiting on Congress to act with common sense and common decency to renew DACA protections. We have a moral obligation to keep our promises and continue negotiations to protect Dreamers and ensure they can continue to live, work and study in the only home they’ve ever known. From the Dreamers I’ve met across the First State, to those I joined for a round table discussion at Delaware State University, Dreamers are some of the most impressive young people I’ve ever met. At a time when millions of jobs remain unfilled, it baffles me that my Republican colleagues would turn their backs on these young individuals who embody the American dream and are striving toward better lives for themselves and their families.

Congress closed out 2017 with a great deal of work unfinished, but we opened 2018 by welcoming two new members to the Senate. Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota and Senator Doug Jones of Alabama are life-long public servants. I was excited to welcome them to Washington earlier this week, and I look forward to working with them to make progress on these important issues that matter to millions of Americans from every corner of the country. Let’s get to work.